Sunday, March 2, 2008

V.D. Wangs...

Once again, I feel compelled to comment on the mediocrity of restaurants and the utter lack of originality that’s being foisted upon us.

I have previously mentioned about how aggravated I get when I read about the new bagel shops or ice cream joints opening. Just to review, whenever a new bagel joint opens, there’s usually some article in the local paper where the owner talks about how they’re offering something totally new, serving a need just begging to be fed: a bagel store with fresh-baked bagel sandwiches, featuring premium deli meats and fresh-made salads. Yeah, like that’s never been done before. Or when a new ice cream shop opens, like Coldstone Creamery. The newspaper propaganda tells us that their concept is sooooooooooooo unique: take semi-premium ice cream and disguise the mediocrity with….hold on….wait for it…”mix-ins”!!!!!! Whoa, hold on there one cotton-pickin’ minute. You mean mix-ins, like M & Ms, Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cup, Heath Bars pieces, Oreos???? I can barely contain my excitement. Who would have thought of such a thing…maybe Steve Herrell, in the 1970s! What kind of suckers do these people think we are?

Well, today, I read I am reading the MetroWest Daily News, discussing the arrival of P.F. Changs in Natick. I am excerpting part of the article, and I am interweaving my comments therein. I can barely control myself:

"… The highest-price item on the menu is $20."

Eric says: I can’t remember the last I went out for Chinese food and saw an item above $11.95. If something’s coming out at $20.00, then Iron Chef Chen Kinichi better come out and feed it to me, and bring some girls with him because, never mind the fortune cookie, I want a different ending...a much "happier" one! For that price, it better come with gold chopsticks, which I will later use to poke my own eyes out, after paying $20 for a Chinese food dish.

“…P.F. Chang's is also a family-style dining restaurant. We each order our preference, but it's not served to us. It's served to the center of the table with serving spoons…The goal of a P.F. Chang's meal, according to its Web site, is "to attain harmony of taste, texture, color and aroma by balancing the Chinese principles of fan and t'sai. Fan foods include rice, noodles and dumplings, while vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood are t'sai foods. Chefs also use Mandarin-style wok-cooking.”

Eric says: Really, this is new to me. Totally shocking. I usually go out for Chinese food and order three or four things and have them all put in front of me, and stuff myself stupid until I explode (like I did 30 years ago at the House of Roy in Chinatown, the week before my bar mitzvah. Happy to share the gory details if anyone cares. Just ask.)

C’mon, GMAB! Communal Chinese food…that’s crazy. Who would ever do that? Actually share the food and not gorge myself? How does this work? Is everybody digging in? These PF Chang people are brilliant-I have never had any food prepared in a unique wok-style of cooking; where have I been all these years?

I cannot believe people actually have rice or noodles with the meat dishes. Its like mixing dairy and meat! My whole world is upside-down. I’m living in “Bizarro World”.

“Traditional dishes include shrimp with lobster, crispy honey chicken and pepper steak. Chicken dishes include orange peel chicken, ginger chicken with broccoli and ground chicken with eggplant. Meat dishes include wok-charred beef, spiced lamb and sweet-and-sour pork. Seafood dishes include wild Alaskan sockeye salmon steamed with ginger, marinated sea bass and lemon pepper shrimp. The restaurant also offers noodle, rice and mein dishes, vegetarian plates, side orders and mini-desserts. It also serves traditional lunch bowls daily until 4 p.m. Each one comes served on a bed of rice with a cup of egg drop or hot-and-sour soup. Choices include almond and cashew chicken, citrus soy salmon and beef with broccoli.”

Eric says: Wait, Wait, WAIT!!!!! I have never heard of such food. Sweet and sour pork? Sounds delightful and delectable. I can actually go at lunch, and get a lunch bowl that comes with soup, and something as gourmet and exotic as beef and broccoli over rice? I cannot believe that its 2008 and no one has thought of this. I am so happy, and privileged to think that PF and friends have decided that its time for the suburbs to enjoy these traditional and exotic flavors. It's like a party in my mouth...

I’m done now. Just tell me this, PF: what kind of rubes do you really think we are? Is the rest of America so cloistered, so ignorant, that you can come and spread your propaganda and expect us to bow down at the altar of PF Chang? You’ll quickly join the likes of Coldstone Creamery as places I will not patronize. I would feel much better of you just advertised yourself as “over-priced Chinese Food chain restaurant.” General Mills/Darden couldn’t make it with “China Coast.” But, hey, your concept is sooooooooooooo cutting edge…good luck.

The next thing you know, someone might try to flatten out some dough, sprinkle some tomato sauce and toppings on it and bake it. Do you think I could find that anywhere?

You’ve been a great audience…enjoy Dan Hill…


Anonymous said...

Among your best. Love the deconstruction. With Cheesecake Factory opening, interested in your analysis as to why its so popular with African Americans (including NBA players as noted in a recent column).

Anonymous said...

I will bet 20 dollars you are at PF's the first week it opens. Also, check your grammar. You're so wound up, stay off the Starbucks!!! Loved, House of Roy!

Eric Weinstein said...

A: Are you asking for the House of Roy story? I'm ready...are you?

Anonymous said...

Bring it on, because I don't remember any House of Roy Story! I'm sure readers would love to know. I was actually saying I loved eating at the House of Roy. That place was great, but it wouldn't pass today's standards of restaurants.